Women who smoke tobacco during pregnancy are more likely to experience pre-term birth, placental complications and perinatal death of their baby (WHO 2013).
Babies of mothers who smoke during pregnancy are at increased risk of poor growth during pregnancy, particularly during the phase of rapid weight gain from 34 weeks of gestation onwards (Sirvinskiene et al. 2016). Sudden infant death syndrome, childhood diabetes and childhood obesity have been linked with exposure to tobacco during fetal development (Banderali et al. 2015; Flenady et al. 2018). Maternal smoking is associated with low birthweight, which in turn is associated with poor educational outcomes in early childhood, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and being overweight in adulthood (Guthridge et al. 2015; Lumley et al. 2009).
Smoking cessation during pregnancy is key in reducing the risk of complications during pregnancy and birth as well as reducing adverse health outcomes for the baby. Cessation at later stages of pregnancy will still improve health outcomes for the baby, including improved fetal growth (AIHW 2021; Miyazaki et al. 2015).
There are clear associations between smoking in pregnancy, age of the mother, remoteness of residence and disadvantage quintile evident in the results presented. Varying sociodemographic profiles of women who give birth in public and private hospitals needs to be taken into account when considering the higher rates of smoking in pregnancy for women giving birth in public hospitals.